Dr. Jack Farquhar: A Mentor with A Better Way

Healthy food, hydrating water and other tools for healthy living. These diet and lifestyle factors are part of the Nutrilite philosophy for optimal health and disease prevention. 

One of my mentors is Dr. John “Jack” Farquhar, a pioneer in disease prevention. I suppose, like many visionary men and women, his success grew out of frustration: He needed to find a better way. In fact, the Nutrilite™ brand and its leadership position in disease prevention is due, in large part, to Jack and his decision early in his career to find a better way. 

Two scientists, one mission

I first met Jack as a young doctoral student when I was at UC Berkeley. One of my big projects was to develop new methods to measure the fatty acid content of lipoproteins in the blood. Jack was at UC San Francisco just a few miles away, and he had similar research interests, focusing on understanding the roles of different fat molecules in heart disease. We had a lot in common, and we talked often about our research, our breakthroughs and our frustrations.

Working on the wrong side of medicine

Jack graduated from UC Berkley and earned his medical degree from UC San Francisco. Early on, he planned on becoming a cardiologist when his training took him to a hospital emergency room in San Francisco. There, he saw many patients who were overweight, out of shape and with poor eating habits. He soon realized he was working on the wrong end of medicine. Instead of trying to cure heart disease, he could do more good if he could help prevent it.

John “Jack” Farquhar. A pioneer of preventative healthcare.

A better way: Disease prevention 

Jack knew about Nutrilite’s interest in nutrition and our earlier studies in the 1950s that we conducted at Stanford University, studies that showed the beneficial effects of Nutrilite supplements for school children. 

In the early 1960s, Jack would formally join the Stanford staff and, in 10 short years, he founded the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention Program, a program focused on preventing, rather than curing, heart disease. 

In those days, the medical community had little interest in disease prevention; rather it was all about finding cures. So this was groundbreaking, the first university program of its kind in the United States.

Under his guidance, the program soon became a full-fledged center and expanded its focus to include other health challenges that could benefit from community-based, self-help solutions. That was in 1984. 

Jack’s work took him into the local communities where he helped people understand that they could prevent heart disease with diet and lifestyle. He was on the right track, so he turned to other major diseases impacting Americans, including lung cancer. He even pioneered some of the first anti-smoking campaigns in the area. 

Young man catching some air on skateboard. Jack Farquhar and his public health efforts often took him into local communities to educate people about diet and lifestyle

Of course, this approach of helping people better their health through diet and lifestyle was central to my father’s philosophy of wellness (and very familiar to Amway distributors who shared Nutrilite products), so it was fitting that Nutrilite and Amway supported Jack’s efforts.

In 1989, Amway, the Nutrilite Foundation and my family joined forces to establish a newly endowed chair in the School of Medicine in honor to my father’s work: the C.F. Rehnborg Professorship in Disease Prevention. It was the first endowed chair of its kind and a fitting tribute in perpetuity to my father for his pioneering work in nutrition, health and fitness.

Jack explained just how big a deal this was for Stanford and for moving the concept of prevention forward. “The C.F. Rehnborg professorship,” he wrote in a thank you letter to Rich DeVos, “is the first tangible move toward disease prevention and health enhancement at Stanford.” I am beyond proud that Jack was its inaugural holder.

Honoring one of my mentors, Dr. John “Jack” Farquhar. Dean Minor and Francesca join me as we surround Professor Gardner behind the symbolic chair and medal celebrating the new Rehnborg Farquhar Professorship at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Menlo Park, Calif., November 2, 2017.

Supporting research that matters

Jack continued his research in disease prevention, and wrote books and articles too numerous to count. The Center that grew out of his dedication to disease prevention has since been renamed to the Stanford Prevention Research Center (SPRC). Today, the SPRC is home to numerous faculty members, scholars, researchers and others, including Dr. Christopher Gardner, the inaugural holder of a second endowed chair dedicated to the pursuit of disease prevention: the Rehnborg Farquhar Professorship. It gives me great joy to know that all them are working towards one goal: To find innovative solutions to prevent diseases. 

Today, disease prevention is considered one of the most important public health concerns around the world. The Nutrilite philosophy continues to focus on diet and lifestyle factors that help prevent debilitating diseases. I believe we owe a debt of gratitude to Jack and his decision early in his career to find a better way. 

Jack passed away last year at 91 years of age. I will be forever grateful for his friendship, his guidance and his vision.

I hope you will join me in continuing his efforts to educate people about the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. After all, disease prevention is not only the better way, it’s the Nutrilite way.


Dr. Sam Signature

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2 thoughts on “Dr. Jack Farquhar: A Mentor with A Better Way”

  1. I worked at Nutrilite for 14 years before leaving to be CEO at a machine tool company. A few months after leaving Nutrilite I found my health deteriorating which I attributed to a lack of Nutrilite’s supplements and then an overdose of antibiotics nearly finished me off!
    Since then thanks to a good diet and food supplements I am in good health at age 85…I take NO medications and I still have all the original body parts from our Creator, except for my appendix.

  2. Dr Sam ,
    I m feeling proud and blessed, because I have been associated with Nutrilite as an ABO and using these supplements for last several years . This is my hard core believe that Nutrilite Philosophy continues to focus on diet and lifestyle factors that help prevent debilitating diseases. You and your team is doing great efforts in the field of health and wellness. You are my Mentor . Thnx a lot for your great work .

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